some things are better by phone

I got an email yesterday from my brother with the subject header, “Dad.”

It did not forebode well–my father is over seventy years old and I can’t help but think that any big news about him has to be bad. Before I double-clicked on the email that said “Dad,” I thought, “Worst case scenario: Dad’s dead. Dad could be dead.” I don’t know why I torture myself like that–something crooked inside me thinks that it makes things easier for me to pre-grieve, or at least address worst case scenarios when my anxiety shoots up. But Dad could also be okay, even though he could be dead.

The other weird thing is that I would even think that my family would send me horrible news by email. But my brother does make it a habit to send me lifechanging announcements by email as opposed to by phone. (He announced his wedding engagement, four months after the fact, by email to me). What else had my brother emailed me?

My brother had emailed me to let me know (in case Mom hadn’t told me–which, by the way, she had not) that Dad had been hospitalized for dizziness, pain, heart palpitations and arryhthmia and elevated blood pressure (220 over 110). He had been hospitalized the day before and “You might want to call Mom at the hospital.”

No one had bothered to call me. I wonder why they do this–do they not want to bother me? There’s a history of this kind of behavior when it comes to bad news; when my grandmother died, my mother did not tell me for four months. By the time I found out, the matter had been swept under the emotional rug and I felt so out of sync with the world in my grief.

…but then again, I don’t really tell them my bad things, either.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “some things are better by phone

  1. Ah that last comment was very telling! On the other hand, I agree that they need to pick up the phone. And I hope your dad is okay, Jade!

  2. i hope your dad is okay too. my family put down our dog when i was 15 and didn’t tell me. when i came home from school she was gone. of course, that’s pretty minor compared to your dad being hospitalized, but nonetheless, it’s amazing what our families thing we don’t need to know. is it better to find out long after? i heartily think NO.

    yeah, it’s why i’m a writer.

    we scream to the world what our families hide from us.

  3. Dad is okay thank you for asking–they haven’t gotten to the bottom of this whole thing, but they got him stabilized enough to go home.

    loose green tea: i heart your words, “we scream to the world what our families hide from us.”

  4. Oh dear God, Jadepark, you know I feel for you. I hadn’t read this when I saw you earlier. Glad to hear he’s doing OK. And sorry they have trouble communicating clearly…that must be painful.

  5. Stephanie

    Glad your dad is feeling better. Hope the line of communication can improve.

    I think some people don’t realize how much more stressful the situation becomes when you delay communication. It would be like my doctor being afraid to tell me I have a cancerous growth on my breast and holding off until a few months later to reveal the news. Yikes! Okay. Forget that analogy but you get what I mean.

  6. mel

    Glad to hear you’re dad’s ok, too. It’s strange that the people we’re (supposed to be) closest to are sometimes the people we have trouble communicating with. Maybe your bro thought email would be easier for you to handle? Or maybe for him to handle?

    I can’t believe your mom didn’t tell you about your grandma for four months. wow.

  7. Hey… woah. I was traveling when my father passed away, so the only notification I *could* get was by email, which I got the next day. It was horrible. (It was worse that I had to fly from this little island in Thailand to Bangkok and then from Bangkok to Korea and then to Canada, as there were no seats available from Bangkok to Canada.)

    Took me a long time to stop kicking myself for not going to Canada instead of Thailand that holiday, and my girlfriend felt badly too since she’d wanted to go to Thailand as well… and of all things, I kicked myself for not checking my email 12 hours earlier, as it sat waiting for half a day, too…

    Glad to know your father’s okay.

  8. Agh! I am glad he is okay (I just saw this post). Unbelievable the things your family has kept from you. I wonder if it is related to this thing that Asian families have about not telling a patient/family member that they have cancer; wanting to “mask” or somehow soften the hard stuff in life… I dunno. I think it’s cruel.

  9. lucy

    argh. I know what you mean. I’m glad your dad is okay — nothing makes you feel quite like the helpless kid again as when your parents act like they may be mortal.

    It may be a Korean thing to keep things secret. And by that I mean genetically ingrained. I didn’t tell my parents about my engagement until 3 months before the wedding. Or about my pregnancy until I was 5 months along. And I am only just beginning to hear about long held family secrets regarding the health and circumstances of the deaths of various relatives. too much drama.

  10. Gord:  You are a person who really loves your father, and it is painful to read how hard it was for you to get to him in those last moments.   But I know he must have felt it.

    Steph and Mel: I think it’s just the idiosyncrasy of my family +cultural stuff.  At least it’s consistent!  I am glad my dad is okay too.
    Susan and Lucy: makes sense that it might be cultural (even genetically ingrained). I used to tell my parents EVERYTHING (i was one of those little chatterboxes who would relay every detail of her day to mom and dad).

    At fourteen, my dad took me aside and said, “You know, you don’t have to tell us EVERYTHING. In fact, best to keep it to yourself!”

    He was dead serious. It was quite an adjustment for me to get more private.

    But ahem, here I am, blogging…

  11. What an emotional rollercoaster. Sorry you had to go through this. Glad everything is straightened out.

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